You love your boyfriend, but you’ve been having soul-shattering arguments that leave you crying and him stomping off. Fighting is exhausting and damaging to the health of a long-term relationship, as well as to your physical health. Sudden emotional stress that comes from fights can cause heart attacks or other heart abnormalities in those with pre-existing conditions, reports the American Psychological Association. The damage constant quarreling does isn’t worth the consequences.
Stop talking. Disengage with an open heart and try not to take hurtful words personally, suggests relationship expert Margaret Paul, Ph.D. in an article posted on The Huffington Post website. Adding fuel to the fire won’t solve anything.
Take a 30-minute break and do something else. According to psychologist Jennifer Baker, Ph.D., writing for "Cosmopolitan," it takes at least 30 minutes to really cool down from a heated argument. When things get nasty, stop and walk away, even if you don’t want to.
Agree to disagree. Validate your boyfriend’s feelings by letting him know you listen to and respect his point of view. Baker says that typically the worst fights escalate because both parties don’t feel that they are being heard and understood.
Ask for clarification. Once you’re both in a cool, calm place, try to understand your boyfriend’s point of view by asking targeted questions with specific examples of his complaints. Act curious without being defensive, suggests Marie Hartwell-Walker, ED.D., writing for Psych Central.
Get to the heart of the problem. Issues run deeper than your boyfriend not putting his socks in the laundry hamper or his forgetting to pick up dinner. Arguments are usually about some version of your feeling like your partner doesn’t accept you or that he takes you for granted, reports clinical psychologist Robert Solley, Ph.D., on Psych Central.
Suggest a compromise. It doesn’t have to be perfectly balanced, but you need some give and take on both sides to end most arguments. If your boyfriend doesn’t like your ideas, have him suggest his version of a solution.
- Don’t be afraid of conflict. Instead of running from it, embrace it as a way to get closer with your boyfriend and an opportunity to improve the relationship, suggests Hartwell-Walker, ED.D.
- Try not to hurt each other’s feelings or say anything hateful that you will regret later. Keep in mind that it's just temporary. You don’t want to say something that will make your problem worse by insulting your boyfriend.
- Talk softly. The louder you talk, the more likely your boyfriend will tune you out.
- Don’t tell your boyfriend not to feel the way he does. Invalidating his feelings will only make him angry and upset. (reference 3)
Bonnie Crowe is a mother of two teenagers; a teacher and author of children's books, curriculum and articles on English grammar, literature, technology, art, parenting and career guides for high schoolers. She's a former director of AOL Parenting, a member of SCBWI, and a graduate from the University of California,Berkeley.
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